a day with the Staffolani family Bosco D'Oro , truffles, wine, food.
We had arrived right on dark into yet another beautiful town, Ascoli Piceno, and although we had a light dinner planned at a local trattoria we had time for a good early evening walk around the old walled city. Its cool but thee city streets glisten after an earlier shower, its a wonderful place to explore.
Ascoli Piceno is a town and comune in the Marche region of Italy, capital of the province of the same name. Its population is around 51,000 but the urban area of the city has more than 105,000.
The town lies at the confluence of the Tronto River and the small river Castellano and is surrounded on three sides by mountains. Two natural parks border the town, one on the northwestern flank (Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini) and the other on the southern (Parco Nazionale dei Monti della Laga) Ascoli has good rail connections to the Adriatic coast and the city of San Benedetto del Tronto, by highway to Porto d'Ascoli and by the Italian National Road 4 Salaria to Rome.
Our hotel , The Palazzo Guiderrocchi, is right in the heart of the old city, you could not want for a better location, but parking is interesting, or better still getting your car out from the compacted carpark is interesting. Plan ahead if your want an on-time departure. The hotel will help you with the parking. Located close to Piazza del Popolo, the Albergo Piceno, Ascoli Piceno hotel is a historic building opposite the Church of San Venancio. It offers spacious rooms with period-style décor and free internet access in the lobby. The Albergo Piceno is located in the heart of Ascoli Piceno. Some rooms are located in a building nearby. The area offers free public parking and a private garage nearby offers discounted rates for hotel guests. The restaurant of this hotel in Ascoli Piceno in-house La Rua de Notari serves creative versions of traditional and regional dishes, as well as a sophisticated international cuisine. The wine cellar offers a wide selection of quality wines.
We meet back at the hotel to do the Italian la passeggiata, or wander round , discuss the world, and head to dinner at a trattoria called Ristorante Mangiafuogo. Great little spot just off the main Piazza Del Popolo. A few dishes here were in the E12 -18 range but most of the Prima Plates were well priced, between 8-10 euro. Everyone is pretty exhausted and anxious for an early night in readiness for the day of the truffle
Its the day i have been looking forward to on a trip of many special days, but there is something about the farming of truffles that really excites the senses. The Staffolani family have one of the most successful Truffle businesses in the region and we are guided by Pierpaolo Staffolani from our hotel to their "laboratory" to meet the family and see the production plant. All members of the extended family play a part in this paddock to plate business.
The introduction goes something like this " Set among the Sybilline Mountains not to far from Ascoli Piceno there is a surface mine, where a wise man patriarch of Truffles, Gilberto, works with his son Pierpaulo, who learns the art , and exports it to the world............ his wife Paula & his daughter in law Daniela who develop their kitchen secrets ........ "
Entering the building in Ascoli the amazing aroma of truffles is quite incredible. We meet some more of the family, before being taken on a thorough inspection, and see how their range of truffle products are prepared. This is just a teaser , and forerunner for what we are going to be tasting later in the day. BUT ....... we have to see where it all starts under the oaks in a fortified and secure hillside grove.
We are taken in convoy out into the foothills to spend the day being educated, in every form , about the noble truffle. We go from Paddock to plate literally.
We are greeted by Gilberto, the main man, who will be showing us through the grove , and giving a thorough run down on how these tubers grow. how they diverted a roman stream to get the right water into the dam that serves the irrigation to the trees. how the ground shows when the tubers are there, and how dogs are used to ferret the tubers out. There is the Precious Black Truffle , the Summer Black, then the White truffle that we will taste from the ground today- bring it on --
After an hour in the fields we work our way round to the trees that will be fossicked by the cutest little dog, and the build up has everyone salivating.
This little critter homed in on a couple of trees and bingo, we had our truffles for lunch !!!
Congratulations all round, then cleaning these little golden nuggets, before focussing on a lunch that is to last 4 hours with truffle to be consumed in every dish.
A long table is prepared with all the family pitching in to prepare this feast for us, I hope the pictures show just how much truffle was used, in some cases you couldn't see the meat for the truffle. Wines were a part of the meal, many of them, but I must say the star , the focus, the entertainer was the truffle. This was a celebration and the proof of just how amazing this little tuber is. Its no wonder that there is armed security round these farms during the season, people go to extraordinary lengths to steal the ugly little tubers under the cover of darkness.
There was a dish that didn't include truffle and as we celebrated with the family who run Bosco D'Oro, www.boscodoro.com a tirimisu was served, Gilberto and his son in Law ramped up the Karaoke , and the dancing began, well, for some of us. If this is life on a typical day in Italy, I'm there. It was 5.40pm when we thanked our hosts for the most incredible day, one I will remember for a long time. Very special, very memorable.